“I disenchanted both sides,” said New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman,
as he wound up the sentencing hearing of Dharun Ravi, the 20-year-old Rutgers
student who was convicted of bias intimidation for spying on his roommate Tyler
Whether you were looking for a harsh and extreme sentence or some form of
leniency, Berman managed to find a sense of balance.
Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail and told to report on May 31. He was given
conditional probation of three years, told to serve 300 hours of community
service, undergo counseling for cyber-bullying and alternate lifestyles, and
asked to pay a $10,000 fine, with the money to go to an organization dedicated
to victims of bias crime.
In addition, the judge said he recommended that Ravi not be deported.
The prosecution had sought a much harsher sentence, and Ravi could have received
up to ten years.
While Ravi did not address the judge, his parents did. His mother and father
both gave emotional appeals for leniency. His mother broke down and cried
several times. “Dharun’s dreams are shattered,” she said, “and he has been
living in hell the last 20 months.”
Judge Berman was stern as he delivered his sentence. His opening comments did
not seem favorable to Ravi, to whom he said, “This jury said guilty 288 times. I
haven’t heard you apologize once.”
He also mentioned Tyler Clementi’s e-mailed comment that Ravi’s conduct was
“wildly inappropriate.”I redacted it from the jury, but I didn’t redact it from
Said Berman: “You can expunge this judgment, but you can’t expunge the conduct
or pain you caused.”
As the judge revealed his sentence, he keyed in on Ravi’s violation of his
roommate’s trust, and how he had lied to police officers, and the “cold and
calculated” way Ravi had tampered with evidence and potential witnesses.
But the judge cited how the neutral pre-sentencing report said Ravi was
“unlikely to commit another crime” and would “respond to probationary
The judge berated Ravi for “colossal insensitivity.”
Clementi committed suicide three days after the webcam spying incident. Ravi was
not on trial for that, but for the privacy matter. Still the case seemed to
morph into the murder of Tyler Clementi. And some feared that Ravi would be
turned into a scapegoat.
But the judge was clear that the scope of his sentence would be limited to the
facts. And then he mentioned how New Jersey’s bias crime law may not be
appropriate for this case. The judge said he read the statutes in 39 states and
said he didn’t think the legislature “envisioned this kind of behavior” when it
adopted the law. He said bias statutes were used as “sentence enhancers for
crimes associated with violent behavior.”
To me, Berman’s assessment seemed fair. I’ve been advocating leniency from day
That Tyler Clementi is dead is bad enough. This case didn’t need a second